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Visa has announced the acquisition of CurrencyCloud, the FX API Platform, for an amount of £700m.
2 weeks ago, we wrote about “Why is the Visa / Tink acquisition important” and mentioned that Visa had transformed its business model, from credit card network to digital payment network and even banking infrastructure. How does the CurrencyCloud acquisition fit in this approach? Read on.
FINTECH NEWS IN THE SPOTLIGHT
What is CurrencyCloud?
What is CurrencyCloud?
CurrencyCloud is a platform that offers FX services to Fintech startups and financial institutions.
CurrencyCloud was founded in 2007 by Nigel Verdon, a serial entrepreneur in Fintech (who also launched Railsbank in 2016, which raised $70m a few weeks ago).
Although FX in general is a very crowded space, CurrencyCloud was one of the only companies that focused on a B2B approach for Fintech startups. This helped new entrants quickly enter the FX market with a cloud-based, API platform, in the same way Stripe does it for SME payments.
They were well known in the Fintech community, because they helped power some of the most high profile startups such as Transferwise (now Wise), Fidor, or Monzo. CurrencyCloud grew quickly as the European Fintech ecosystem rapidly scaled and FX was a key offering of many new challenger banks and neobanks.
CurrencyCloud raised money quite regularly, with the main funding rounds as follows:
- $2m in 2012
- $10m in 2014
- $18m in 2015
- $20m in 2017
- $80m in 2020
- Acquired by Visa in July 2021 (at a valuation of $1bn)
Companies in the similar space as CurrencyCloud are Earthport (acquired for $250m last year by…. we’ll let you guess), Ebury (SME-focused, acquired by Santander for $450m) or Kantox (SME-focused).
Why is the CurrencyCloud / Visa acquisition important?
For the same reason that the acquisition of Tink was important: because payments (including credit card) was a siloed activity of financial services, but thanks to digitalisation and the rise of platforms, have become much more important.
First, in terms of revenues, payments have grown considerably (40% of total revenues). Secondly, payments are now the starting point for rebundling of the industry, both in B2C (i.e. Revolut mentioned last week, offering full-service banking), and B2B.
In the B2B space, Visa and Mastercard are now clearly competing to offer much much more than just credit card services, but the whole banking infrastructure, from Open Banking (Tink) to cross-border payments (CurrencyCloud).
This is what Visa calls the strategy of Network of Networks, which is certainly a catchy name, although it is not necessarily easy to understand!
The CurrencyCloud / Visa acquisition is therefore important because:
- This is an excellent example of rebundling of financial services in B2B
- It shows the accelerated trend of Fintech acquisitions in the $1 – $5bn range
- Large companies can make successful strategic decisions in fast changing world
- Infrastructure is less in the news, but not less important
- Offering services to Fintech startups can be a good business strategy
Payments: Innovation in Open Banking
The Revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2) came into force in all EU member states in 2018. One stated aim of this legislation was to create room for innovations in technology and business models in order to give account holders more choices and more direct control regarding access to their account information and ways of initiating payment transactions. Although an evolving array of new services and service providers has emerged over the past few years, the market remains in an early phase of experimentation.
What are Cryptocurrency Wallets and How do they Work?
Today, with the ease of access to digital currencies, a speculated maturity in the market along with booming popularity fuelled by Elon Musk – cryptocurrency wallet users are exploding in numbers. 68 million wallet users exist worldwide as of 2021, a quantity that was just a few thousand 10 years ago, according to Statista. With these currencies taking full form in today’s digital world, if you are an outsider looking in to get your hands dirty and experiment, it is essential to understand what are cryptocurrency wallets and how blockchain technology makes transacting with them so easy.
UPCOMING FINTECH EVENTS
27th July | Private Sector and Digital Euro – Stablecoins: Hype or Gamechanger?
Which different stablecoins exist? Which benefits do stablecoins provide? Learn more about Stablecoins with industry leaders from DEA, Circle, Monerium and Celo.
28th July | The Future of Money in Light of NFTs, Bitcoin, CBDCs and FinTech
What is going on in the world of digital currencies? Get up to speed about the development of CBDCs, NTFs, Bitcoin.
29th July | CFTE & WSBI: Embrace Artificial Intelligence and Prepare for the Future
Get a headstart on exploring the real-life implementations and use of AI in finance from credit decisions to risk management. Learn the secrets of the main players in the scene.
COURSE OF THE WEEK
15 Mins Daily Courses. Learn the Skills of Fintech, Payments, AI, Open Banking and RegTech
Learn from the world’s greatest minds with a range of experts from IMB to high growth startups such as Starling Bank. Develop an understanding of the importance of each Fintech sector, and the key players within the industry as well as gaining foresight into the future of Fintech and regulations through an analysis of current innovations and practices.
EVENT OF THE WEEK
Data volumes have skyrocketed, and so does the number of cyber attacks. If you want to learn how to protect yourself and your organisation from an ever-growing number of cyber threats, listen to Christopher Muffat, the founder and CEO of Dathena, on how to prevent branches in security.
UNICORN OF THE WEEK
Indian Paytm prepares for IPO at $25-$30bn valuation
Why is it interesting?
- Would be largest tech IPO in India
- Huge acceleration of Fintech in India recently
- Would enter top 10 Fintech startups globally
See CFTE’s live and updated ranking of the largest Fintech companies ►
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
Sometimes think-tanks and incubators work, but sometimes the best ideas come from outside your milieu (…) Financial institutions of all sizes, but particularly larger financial institutions, need to find ways to engage in innovation outside their walls, because it’s moving that way anyway.Ex-Goldman Sachs Asset Manager, Sheila Patel
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